Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Warp (1979)

I have recently had the opportunity to review a video recording of the marathon performance of the 1979 stage play The Warp within which there turns out to be a major surprise.  Read on for more details ...

The Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool's Production of The Warp performed at the ICA in January 1979, written by Neil Oram, directed by Ken Campbell.

The Warp was a ten-play cycle charting the early adult life of a character called Philip Masters over a twenty-year period from 1958 - 1978.  The plays detail Phil's development from an 18-year-old teddy boy with a talent for ad-libbing poetry, into a bohemian hippy seeking transcendental enlightenment to make sense of his life.  Along the way he encounters a wide range of bizarre characters from UFO-ologists to Scientologists as well as having a string of failed relationships with women.

The plays were commissioned in 1978 by director and actor Ken Campbell from his writer friend Neil Oram who based the story on some of his own experiences.  The resultant plays were initially performed individually in 1979 at London's ICA until eventually all of the plays were performed together in a continuous performance lasting a record-breaking 22 hours. 

Philip Masters was played by Russell Denton who appeared in virtually every scene.  The other parts were played by a company of (then) mostly unknown actors many of whom played multiple roles.  Future familiar names amongst the cast were Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy and another that I'll come to soon.

This historic performance was videoed for the record on early portable equipment and eventually writer Neil Oram made most of the material available to purchase, first on video in the 1990s, and more recently on DVD.  The total running time of this was 15.5 hours.

As you may have guessed, the reason I am mentioning this on the blog is because a number of the actresses have nude scenes.  And whilst most of these actresses did not go on to become household names, there was one real surprise amongst them.  

The actress Janet Fielding, who was playing Phil's second girlfriend Hazel in the second and third play, would soon afterwards find fame as Doctor Who companion Tegan Jovanka in the Peter Davison era from 1981 to 1984.  She had two nude scenes.

Her involvement in this production of The Warp is mentioned on her IMDB biography " ... After leaving university she worked with an English writer/director named Albert Hunt, who in 1977 brought her to England in one of his shows.  Once in England she joined Ken Campbell at the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool and appeared in productions including 'The Warp' and 'The End is Nigh' ..."

Here are details of the scenes and the plays in which they occur.  Not all the plays had nudity.

Play 1 - The Storm's Howling Through Tiflis

Maya (as Eva)
Topless and rear nudity as she does a sexy strip in a tool shed for her boyfriend Phil Masters (Russell Denton) who has just given her the news that he is leaving for Africa - then topless kneeling on the floor and leaning forwards against a table as he makes love to her from behind.

NOTE: This actress is the only one credited without a complete name.  I could not establish if there was an actress from this time who was known by that single name or if it is a pseudonym.

Play 2 - The Weather on Orion

Janet Fielding (as Hazel)
Topless standing putting on her bra and the rest of her clothes as she and Phil Masters (Russell Denton) talk after having made love on a small table.

And the following two are part of the same scene:-

Michelle Franklin (as Audrey)
Rear nudity laying on a bed posing for her friend Phil Masters (Russell Denton) as he sketches her - later topless side view with her left breast briefly seen as she sits up on the bed when she is joined by Phil's girlfriend Hazel (Janet Fielding) where they smooch and writhe around sensually as Phil frantically sketches.

Janet Fielding (as Hazel)
Topless and then full frontal nudity standing and undressing to stockings and suspenders after arriving at her artist boyfriend Phil's bedsit so she can pose naked on the bed for him, joining his other friend Audrey (Michelle Franklin) who is already posing - then topless as she kneels on the bed with Audrey and then rear nudity as they smooch and writhe erotically while Phil frantically continues sketching until he can resist no longer and joins the pair of them on the bed.

NOTE: Michelle Franklin is not on IMDB for any TV or film roles.

Play 4 - Eye To Eye

Pat Donovan (as Meg)
Briefly topless sitting up in bed and taking off her shirt after taking the initiative and getting into Phil Masters' (Russell Denton) bed after he brings her back to his room - later topless and full frontal nudity as she sits up on the side of the bed and then stands up to put on her shirt after they have finished having sex.

NOTE: Pat Donovan is not on IMDB.  Unless she is Patricia Donovan who has three UK TV appearances listed from around the same time (1981 - 1984).

Play 6 - A Key In The Shredded Cloak

Maria Moustaka (as Rachel Gallop)
Topless laying on a mattress on the kitchen floor with like-minded free-thinking bohemian hippy Phil Masters (Russell Denton) expressing their free love when Phil's less-than-enamoured wife Meg (Pat Donovan) comes downstairs and expresses her disapproval by pouring a bowl of water over them both - then topless as she stands up upset and gets dressed and hurriedly leaves.

NOTE: Maria Moustaka is on IMDB for one thing

Play 10 - Pure White Light

Maria Moustaka (Rachel Gallop)
Topless sitting up in bed with her boyfriend Phil after they have made love for the first time after a few months apart as they catch up with recent events and then discuss where they want to go next.

Claudia Bolton (Clava)
Full frontal nudity as she steps out of her robes of worship and sits down cross-legged in the company of Phil Masters (Russell Denton), who has come to India seeking enlightenment from a guru to whom she is a devotee - then topless as she meditates and then explains to Phil what she is doing.

NOTE: Claudia Bolton is not on IMDB for any TV or film roles

Acknowledgments: Thanks to the correspondent who originally apprised me of the Janet Fielding scenes, and to the collector who lent the disks for me to review.

The actresses as they appear in THE WARP

If anyone knows a full or different name for Maya, or if Michelle Franklin, Pat Donovan and Claudia Bolton had acting careers under a different name (perhaps a married name) then please let me know.

Cast List
Because I've not seen them listed elsewhere here is the full cast list (in the order they are listed in the end credits)

Russell Denton (as Philip Masters), Pat Donovan (as Meg Masters), Maria Moustaka (as Rachel Gallop)

And playing several roles (I've omitted all the character names here but they are given)Bunny Reid, John Joyce, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Stephen Williams, Tony Maple, Michael Irwin, David Hatton, Michelle Franklin, Bruce Taylor, Joolia Capleman, Richard Hope, Richard Howard, Brian Calloway, Mitch Davis, Claudia Bolton, Eve Grace, Helen Cooper, Janet Fielding, Cindy Oswin, Adrian Christie, Chris Lynham, Maya, John Worren, Tim Albery, Nicole Perez, Jonathon Baxter, Tony D'Arriaga, Mary Ferguson, Maggie Jordon, Martin Skinner, George Harvey Webb, Una Lind.

FOOTNOTE: The 1982 film "Uliisses" featured some of the cast, including Russell Denton, performing selected scenes from the plays although it only begins to make some sense after understanding the context obtained from seeing the whole thing.

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